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Chapter Twenty-One

ProFIRE watched the battle from a safe distance with his enhanced vision capabilities. He had sent some of his soldiers in to defeat Ashley and his friends. He had watched as the Landale made its crash landing. He saw the warriors inside scramble out and join the fray. He saw Ashley take control of the situation.

Ashley took charge of his people in a fashion that amazed ProFIRE. He never bossed them around. He never yelled out of anger. He led them by example and by respect. ProFIRE did respect that in a leader. He felt there were far to few humans of that caliber in the world. He liked to think that if more humans were like Ashley, he would not be taking these measures to safeguard the Algo System.

ProFIRE returned his vision to a normal view. Then he brought a long-range beam rifle to his shoulder and took aim. He sighted in on Ashley through an electronic scope. The freethinking robot used a scope with cross hairs to line up his target. His aim was careful and deliberate. His target was Chaz Ashley.

ProFIRE placed his finger on the trigger. He watched Ashley's movement carefully. He anticipated the warrior's movements. One shot and it would be all over for the blonde man. ProFIRE had Ashley square in his sights.

ProFIRE dropped the beam rifle. He cursed himself for not being able to pull the trigger. But, ProFIRE knew why he could not kill Ashley. Ashley was a warrior. A warrior deserved to die facing his enemy and not shot from afar by an assassin. ProFIRE had long ago defined his code of ethics. Without picking up the beam rifle, ProFIRE made his way towards the battlefield.

* * * * *
Chaz found himself in the middle of a killing field. He ordered all of his comrades to fall back to the Landale and regroup. Rika and her team made their way towards the Landale. Incendiary devices exploded in the battlefield. After Sharon had destroyed the lone robot, several other robots swarmed over a nearby ridge. Robots of various makes and designs kept pressing their advantage in order to kill the humans.

The Landale had suffered some serious damage. Two of the landing struts had broken during the crash. One of the landing struts was now being used as cover by Chaz, Alys, Rune, and Hahn. They did their best to provide cover fire for Rika, Kyra, and the children. Using FOI and Zan techniques to attack from a distance.

Rika and her team made it to the broken landing strut with no serious injuries. All of them were panting hard from their desperate run for safety. Sharon had lost one of her slashers during the battle.

Alys looked at Chaz. She could see he was busy assessing a strategy that would get them out of this situation. He counted roughly fifteen robots advancing with four support robots laying down cover fire. The advancing robots looked as if they were designed to be light infantry personnel.

Using hand signals, Chaz instructed Rika and Alys to move out and sneak behind the support robots. Kyra, Sharon, Chaz, and Rune would provide cover. Chaz hoped the two women would be able to destroy the support robots. That would leave only the infantry models to contend with.

Chaz and his allies began a volley of high-energy attack forcing the infantry robots to halt and take cover. Rika and Alys ran behind the Landale and quickly made their way around the battlefield to the ridge where the support robots were.

Chaz ducked just in time to be missed by a return volley of laser fire. He and his friends were pinned down by the onslaught of enemy fire. The only place they could go was back. He looked at his comrades. Then, he looked at his children. Chaz knew retreat was not and option.

Chaz turned to Rune and Kyra. He signaled for them to follow him as he dashed out from behind cover. With sword in hand, Chaz rushed the advancing robots. Kyra and Rune followed Chaz's charge without hesitation. Each person put all his heart into the fight. Several of the closer robots fell before the heroes' country strike.

Kyra had just dispatched one of the enemy robots when a concussion blast knocked her to the ground. One of the support robots had exploded. Chaz took a quick look around and found Rika and Alys were no where near the smoldering heap of twisted metal. A ray of blue light lanced out from the Landale and another support robot exploded.

Someone inside the Landale was operating a laser cannon. The cannon swivelled to aim at the next target. As if some cosmic fate had interceded, the cannon suddenly fell silent. Thin plumes of smoke could be seen coming from the mechanical parts that enabled the cannon to move.

Chaz turned his attention back to the fight just in time to see him. He saw a large black robot strutting towards him. The robot moved with purpose and determination. Chaz felt his stomach twist at the sight of the machine. It moved as if it were a force of nature and nothing could stop it.

The remaining robots fell back as the new robot approached. The huge black robot drew an energy pistol and a laser saber. This new threat shot Kyra. The blast left a searing burn in her shoulder. Kyra fell to the ground unconscious. Rune ran to her and quickly dragged her from the battlefield. He began treating her injuries as soon as they were under cover.

The huge black robot never took his eyes from Chaz. He aimed the pistol to the left of Chaz's and let another shot lance out. This time, the beam struck Hahn as he stepped out to cast an energy attack. Hahn, like Kyra, fell to the ground almost instantly.

"Stay under cover," Chaz yelled to his comrades. Chaz stood motionless as the kill zone began to quiet. He stared at the robot approaching him. Suddenly, he saw the robot drop the energy pistol to the ground. The robot closed the distance between them at a steady pace. When the two adversaries were five meters apart, the robot stopped.

"I am ProFIRE," the robot began.

"I am Chaz Ashley. Why have you done this?"

The robot stood silent for a few moments.

"Motavia must be rid of anyone that would destroy it. This means that humans are the biggest threat. Nothing personal."

"Then why not just kill us? You had a perfect chance to hit us all with the laser pistol."

"Warriors deserve a warrior's death."

With that, ProFIRE took a combat stance with his laser saber at the ready. Chaz took up a similar stance. The two combatants closed in on each other. Chaz focused his thoughts as he drew closer to ProFIRE.

With one swift gesture, Chaz let loose a volley of NAFOI blasts. Each blast simply disappeared a few feet in front of ProFIRE. The robot had made no effort to defend himself from the blasts.

"A negative energy barrier," ProFIRE stated. "We will end this with skill and cunning. The way warriors should end battles."

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